Swimming with porpoises is, they say, a transcendent experience. But a great fish stew that will transport you too, and you don’t have to leave home to get a healthy lift of body and soul. This one, popular in Puerto Rico, is easy, and brimming with complex flavors. Capers and oregano suggest a Mediterranean twist while the cilantro hints at Mexico or Latin America. The stew is a beautiful blend of cultures and tastes, emblematic of the flavors of the island itself.
Bacalao — salted dried codfish — is a popular staple throughout Latin America and Spain. In this recipe it’s used as a point of reference. Because true bacalao requires overnight soaking and several rinses, this quick and easy recipe uses fresh fish rather than salted. The result? The same hearty flavor in less time. Cod is low in saturated fats, and it’s a good source of B vitamins, niacin, and vitamin D.
The best fish to use is Atlantic cod. It is one of the few animal products we eat that contains vitamin D. A 3oz serving contains 25% of our daily vitamin D needs, along with good amounts of niacin, and vitamins B6, and B12. Cod is also a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids, and minerals like Selenium, phosphorus, and potassium. Because the recipe is flexible, you can see what’s fresh at your local fish counter and plan accordingly. Opt for firmer hook-and-line-caught haddock when you can’t get Atlantic cod. Pacific cod also works, but will be flakier.
The soup is simple but interesting. The poblano pepper gives it warmth (if you want a milder stew, use a sweet green Italian frying pepper) while the tomatoes boost the broth with antioxidant-rich Lycopene. A spritz of lime juice adds some vitamin C and flavor. A couple bowls of this picker-upper and you may be ready for those porpoises.